ILNews

New voter ID lawsuit filed

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The League of Women Voters of Indiana filed a lawsuit today in Marion County challenging the state's three-year-old voter identification statute recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At 2 p.m. today, the organization filed the suit with the Marion Superior Court against Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, arguing that it has the standing to sue on behalf of its members because the state statute burdens potential voters and would cause the league to have to spend "precious resources" assisting voters without the required ID.

This lawsuit comes following the April 28 ruling from the nation's highest court in William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008), which upheld the state law that is considered the strictest in the nation. That ruling rejected the facial challenge, but left the door open for as-applied challenges in federal court and those involving state constitutional claims.

But that case won't have much impact here, according to Indianapolis attorney William Groth who is co-counsel on this suit. The league is only raising Indiana constitutional challenges, which makes this different, he said.

"Crawford only minimally factors in," Groth said. "It discusses the law, how it operates, and sets the legal landscape for us, but doesn't have any impact."

Specifically, the suit says the 2005-passed Indiana voter ID law violates the Indiana Constitution's Article 2, Section 2, which states citizens only need to meet the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in order to cast a vote in-person. Any change the legislature might make must come through a constitutional amendment, not a statute, which didn't happen here, the suit says.

The suit doesn't name any specific plaintiffs, but does mention two specific election examples where individuals were restricted from voting because of the law.

One example happened during the 2007 municipal election when at least 34 voters arrived to vote without the required photo ID and were given provisional ballots - only two produced that ID later to have their votes count. The second example occurred during the May 2008 primary when 12 elderly St. Joseph County nuns were not even allowed to cast provisional ballots because they didn't have the required ID.

"Our argument will turn on whether the voter ID law imposes a new substantive requirement, or whether it's merely regulating the mechanics of the voting process," Groth said. "It's a subtle and nuanced distinction, but our Indiana caselaw supports that this must be a constitutional amendment."

The suit requests a speedy hearing for a declaratory relief in time for the Nov. 4 general election, though Groth expects the controversial issues involved here will require this case to be appealed and that could take longer.

Read the June 25-July 8, 2008 issue of Indiana Lawyer for a more in-depth story on this lawsuit, another in federal court, and others across the nation challenging voter identification requirements.
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  1. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  2. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  3. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  4. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  5. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

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